Readers’ Place

Call the Midwife!

In recent decades, midwifery has seen a resurgence in industrialized countries. In much of the developing world, the tradition was never out of style. This reclaiming has been expressed as an interest in the popular British TV series, Call the Midwife (on PBS in NJ), about to start a fifth season, and at Maplewood Library we have three new titles whose subject is midwives or midwifery:

Reluctant MidwifeThe reluctant midwife by Patricia Harman
Becky Myers is the reluctant midwife, returning to her hometown in West Virginia to look for work as a nurse. Harman paints a vivid picture of 1930s Appalachia, with men and women out of work and many hungry mouths at home. The Reluctant Midwife is steeped in medical facts, and does not shy away from the gruesome facts of life and death.


Secrets of MidwivesThe Secrets of midwives by Sally Hepworth
Secrets new and old create drama for a family with three generations of midwives. Grace, a second-generation midwife, can’t stand secrets-perhaps because unbeknownst to her, one has been haunting her for her entire life. The woman guarding that information is her mother, Floss, also a midwife and now retired. And then there’s Grace’s daughter, Neva, who has secrets of her own. She is pregnant and although she’s getting past the point of being able to hide it, she’s determined not to disclose the father’s identity. The mystery surrounding Neva’s pregnancy prompts Floss to revisit the past and start to consider coming clean. Meanwhile, unforeseen circumstances cause Grace to try her hand at deception. In a family with a talent for concealment as well as midwifery, could it turn out that the truth is as welcome as a newborn?

Star Side of Bird HillThe Star side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson
Jackson’s debut novel is a bittersweet coming-of-age tale of heartbreak and loss. Dionne and Phaedra, 16 and 10, are two sisters who go to Barbados in the summer of 1989, in the care of their grandmother Hyacinth, a midwife and obeah practitioner. Dionne acts out and meets boys, while Phaedra immerses herself in her grandmother’s world. When their circumstances suddenly change and dictate a more permanent stay in Barbados, the girls are angry and confused. Their unfamiliar situation is further compounded by the reappearance of their long-gone father. He presents a chance to return to America, if they can trust him.

Compiled by Ina Rimpau

Posted by Barbara | 26 Aug 2015 | Comments Off on Call the Midwife!

In Memoriam: E.L. Doctorow

E. L. DoctorowEdgar Lawrence “E. L.” Doctorow (January 6, 1931 – July 21, 2015) was an American author best known internationally for his works of historical fiction.

Doctorow was born in the Bronx, the son of second-generation Americans of Russian Jewish extraction who named him after Edgar Allan Poe. His father ran a small music shop. He attended the Bronx High School of Science where, surrounded by mathematically gifted children, he fled to the office of the school literary magazine, Dynamo. He published his first literary effort, “The Beetle,” in it, which he describes as ”a tale of etymological self-defamation inspired by my reading of Kafka.”

He returned to New York after graduating from Kenyon College in Ohio and completing his military service and took a job as a reader for a motion picture company, where he said he had to read so many Westerns that he was inspired to write what became his first novel, Welcome to Hard Times. He began it as a parody of western fiction, but it evolved to be a serious reclamation of the genre before he was finished. It was published to positive reviews in 1960.

In 1969, Doctorow left publishing to pursue a writing career. He accepted a position as Visiting Writer at the University of California, Irvine, where he completed The Book of Daniel (1971), a freely fictionalized consideration of the trial and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for giving nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It was widely acclaimed. 

Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (also won by Billy Bathgate) and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction (also won by Ragtime and Billy Bathgate), a finalist for the National Book Award (won by World’s Fair) and the Pulitzer Prize, The March (2005) was widely recognized as a signature book, treated by critics as the climactic work of a career. It is a fictionalization of the Civil War campaign of General William T. Sherman.

“Someone said to me once that my books can be arranged in rough chronological order to indicate one man’s sense of 120 years of American life,” Mr. Doctorow said on the publication of “City of God.”

Ina Rimpau

Posted by Barbara | 23 Jul 2015 | Comments Off on In Memoriam: E.L. Doctorow

Summer Reading Club Week 2

Each week we are asking participants in our Escape the Ordinary Summer Reading Club for adults to share thoughts on their reading.  In the second week, we asked,  “Write a short review of a book you recently read and enjoyed.” We’ve got lots of great reviews to share:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: One of the best books I have ever read. I’d never read it before. It’s so full and rich and so much happens to evoke this time in Alabama history.

The Racketeer by John Grisham was a book that I really enjoyed. The plot was phenomenal. It had many twists that kept me reading. I loved the characters, settings, everything. I recommend this book to all who like a good thrilling book.

Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora: Do you ever walk through an affluent neighborhood and wonder about the lives of those who live there? This is a brilliant collection of interconnected short stories examining the fascinating, bizarre and somewhat dark lives of the residents of Old Cranbury, Connecticut. I didn’t know if I should shake my head or laugh at the characters, but did know that I wanted to keep reading.

Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich: As usual, it was a fun, fast read with Stephanie Plum again getting into trouble trying to find a patient who disappeared from the hospital and helping her friend Ranger out with security, to a disastrous end.

The Passage by Justin Cronin: The first of an apocalyptic trilogy of stories. An engaging book that follows a child, Amy, through a difficult childhood and an even more difficult tween period. Also follows 11 death row prisoners who are given a second chance to help society. Excellent story.

Little Big Lies by Liane Moriarty: I enjoyed the plot and characters. This book nicely combined mystery with interesting character development. Set in Australia, it was a great summer read.

The Martian by Andy Weir; Not only great Sci-Fi,  but great reading. The reader is along for the story of an astronaut stranded on Mars when a storm happens and his colleagues think he’s dead. Read it before it comes to the cinema later this year!

The Courtesan Duchess by Joanna Shupe; Joanna is South Orange’s Danielle Steele. I loved the love and intrigue. It was fun to read. It makes you feel good.

The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses; This book gives the background and subsequent struggles of 4 college roommates and their issues with family and struggles with body image. Written in an accessible, interesting manner. Highly readable.

A History of Loneliness by John Boyne; This was a great look at the evolution of priests within the Catholic Church in Ireland. It seemed unbiased and unfolded slowly. It was haunting.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is a real page turner and well written. (The author) cleverly overlaps the husband’s and wife’s narratives and surprises the reader at nearly every turn.

Privilege: A Reader by Kimmel and Ferber; I thought this book was relatable and accessible for readers from different backgrounds. The book also provides questions after each chapter to make (you) think and hopefully learn to look at the whole through a different lens.

Something Great by M. Clarke; A great story about a couple (who) overcame their fears of being different; (she) from a middle class family and he from a rich, self-made family. They get through all obstacles that threaten to break them apart. It’s a page turner; you will not be bored.

A Love Supreme: Real Life Stories of Black Love by TaRessa and Calvin Stovall is a great book. I liked this book because it has different stories from happily married black couples. The ups and downs, the good and bad. I learned more about people who are married. The book has a story about General Colin Powell, who is my hero, and how he met his wife, Amy, on a blind date.


Posted by Barbara | 20 Jul 2015 | Comments Off on Summer Reading Club Week 2

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